Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) play ultimate Frisbee with a United Arab Emirates team at the American School of Dubai during a scheduled port visit in April. (MCS2 Shannon M. Smith / Navy)
The Defense Department has reinstated two-week rest and recuperation leave in nine countries for troops who deploy before June 1.
The change is valid for a year beginning June 1, and it is only for those who deploy before that date to the land areas of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, according to a May 6 memo from Jessica Wright, the acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
The memo comes on the heels of a recent DoD decision to remove 20 areas from its list of locations that qualify for imminent danger pay. The pay change is effective June 1, and it affects about 50,000 troops.
The 20 locations that no longer qualify for the pay include the land areas and airspace above Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Montenegro. Also on the list are East Timor, Liberia, Haiti, Oman, Rwanda, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Also removed are the water areas of the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, and the Red Sea, and the water area and airspace above the Persian Gulf.
The R&R leave program is allocated for troops in an area that is designated for hostile fire or imminent danger pay, according to the DoD instruction on leave and liberty policy and procedures.
Qualifying troops also must be on unaccompanied tours and be in an area where ordinary annual leave programs have been restricted.
The decision to temporarily reinstate the R&R program in these nine countries is in response to a request from Central Command to grandfather troops who deploy there before June 1.
What remains in place is R&R for troops who deploy for a year to places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and Egypt. Troops deployed to these locations receive imminent danger pay.